The US Trade Representative removed the Chinese ecommerce site Taobao from its “Notorious Markets” for piracy, citing efforts on the part of the company to work with copyright holders after it was placed on the list for its reputation for counterfeited merchandise on the site.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative report states the ecommerce company “has worked with rights holders to significantly decrease the listing of infringing products for sale through its website, and has committed to continue working to streamline its complaint procedures to further reduce listings of counterfeit products.”
China’s largest ecommerce platform, Toabao holds an estimated market chair of 70 percent. Featuring more than 800 million product listings, the site has close to 500 million registered users.
It had been described by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “one of the single largest online sources of counterfeits.”
A former critic of Taobao’s copyright efforts, the Motion Picture Association of America supported Taobao’s efforts to reduce the amount of copyright goods on its site, Reuters reported. Many US software, clothing and shoe manufacturers urged the US government to keep the company on the list, however.
To stay off the list, the US government urged Taobao to “further streamline procedures … for taking down listings of counterfeit and pirated goods and to continue its efforts to work with and achieve a satisfactory outcome with U.S. rights holders and industry associations.”
The move may be more political than functional, as a look at Taobao’s website still reveals some generic knock offs of high end brands.
Owned by Alibaba Group Holding, Taobao’s removal marks the second copyright victory for the year for the company. Alibaba.com was removed from the list of “Notorious markets” in December of 2011. Though the removal should prove to be a “milestone,” Alibaba maintained it would continue to stem counterfeiting on the site.
“The [intellectual property rights] issue in China is a long march,” company spokesman John Spelich told the Wall St. Journal. “We clearly intend to continue to engage with industry, with associations with brands, and this is a continuous improvement process.”
The Chinese website Sogo was also removed from the list due to its efforts to work with copyright holders.
Baidu, likewise, had spent its share of time on the list before forming an agreement in 2011 with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Corp to pay royalties to copyrighted artists.
The 2012 notorious markets list continues to include Xunlei, a site known for the downloading of pirated movies, Baixe de Tudo, a Swedish hosted site targeted at the Brazilian market, and Gougou, another Chinese website.